Much more ambitious tasks: Date of the third Starship flight is announced

SpaceX has announced the approximate date of the third orbital flight of the Starship spacecraft. It will include a number of ambitious tests and will follow a new trajectory.

Starship refueling test. Source: SpaceX

SpaceX intends to launch a bundle of the Starship spacecraft and the Super Heavy booster as early as March 14. For this, the company will need to obtain a flight permit from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Since the agency officially completed the investigation of the accident that occurred during the second flight of Starship, it is expected that this process will not take much time. 

The key feature of the third test is that it will follow a completely new profile than the first two flights. Recall that they envisaged that Starship would make an almost complete orbit around the Earth, after which it would descend from orbit about 90 minutes after launch in the area of the Hawaiian Islands.

Starship Dimensions

During the third test, Starship will fly on a completely different trajectory. It provides for its fall into the Indian Ocean 65 minutes after launch. According to SpaceX representatives, the new trajectory will allow testing a number of new technologies and at the same time maximize flight safety.

One of the most important things SpaceX wants to try out during the new flight is launching Raptor engines in outer space, which the company has not done yet. Another important test will be the opening and closing of the door of the payload bay, which in the future will be used to launch Starlink satellites.

And finally, during the flight, a fuel transfer test will be conducted between the Starship tanks. It will be the first step towards future flights, during which the Starship tanker will transfer methane and oxygen fuel to another Starship in orbit. This will be required for the Artemis III mission, during which Starship will land two astronauts at the South Pole of the Moon.

At the moment, the implementation of Artemis III is scheduled for September 2026, although many experts express reasonable doubts that the mission can take place within the specified time frame. How long it will be delayed will largely depend on how exactly the third Starship flight ends.

According to

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